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The Ravens (9-4) appear playoff-bound. But how far they go will probably depend upon whether the defense can improve upon its erratic play.

“I guess what we need to do better as a team is play the whole 60 minutes,” Suggs said. “Just finish guys off. Just continue to do what you did in the first half for the whole game.”

Baltimore limited the Texans to one touchdown in the first half, then fell apart after halftime.

“I see that as kind of an aberration,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. “I have a lot of respect for the defense. I always have.”

Payton scoffed at the notion that the Baltimore defense is old and tired, referring to the fashion in which the Ravens played in low-scoring defeats against New England and Pittsburgh.

“I don’t see that,” he said. “Whether it’s their defense versus the Steelers or versus the Patriots, this will be a big test for us. This will be probably one of the top defenses, if not the top defense we’ve seen all season.”